New York City is going back to its roots.
Members and friends of local musical institution the Roots will take part in a series of four shows at the Bell House in Gowanus this September called “Old New York Live.” The shows will harken back to an earlier period in the city’s musical history, when performers of all styles and backgrounds rubbed shoulders, according to the organizer.
“This is going to be a throwback to the old style of New York, where all kinds of different artists would be in the same room and just vibe out,” said rapper Karl Dice Jenkins. “We’re going to have a real eclectic mix of stuff.”
Jenkins, who also goes by his emcee name Dice Raw, is a longtime associate of the Roots — best known to many as the house band on Jimmy Fallon’s various late-night TV endeavours — and he still operates out of the band’s native Philadelphia. And even though he is based in Philly, Jenkins said he yearns for what he considers a more authentic and more creative “Old New York.”
“Old New York, to me, is something a little classier,” he said.
The series kicks off Sept. 2 with performances by Roots spin-off band the Dust Rays, singer-songwriter Milton, and Young Pandas — a synth-heavy rhythm and blues outfit from New England.
Jenkins decided to create “Old New York Live” after watching videos of Sammy Davis Jr. performing and hanging out at the legendary Manhattan nightclub Studio 54. He said it brought to mind an image of New York as a place where people from all walks of life would cross paths with each other, and he wanted to recreate that — on stage.
Jenkins was cagey about describing the event in too much detail, but he promised a broad, genre-spanning program, including performances by disc jockeys, rappers, and performance artists — alongside Roots members and collaborators such as Captain Kirk Douglas, Tarik “Black Thought” Trotter, Mark Kelley, and Ray Angry. But what he held back in details, he made up for in optimistic bravado.
“You can expect to have your life changed,” Jenkins said. “People who come to this show are going to walk out a different person than when they came in.”
“Old New York Live” at the Bell House [149 7th St. between Second and Third avenues, (718) 643–6510, www.thebe